Planning ahead: The best wines to pair with your Christmas dinner
I suspect many of you decide what you’re going to eat for Christmas and buy in wine without connecting the one with the other. From a food pairing point of view ,however, it would obviously be better to plan your drinking around the meals you’ve decided to make.
So what are the best wines to pair with Christmas dinner? Here’s a quick guide, pulling together the various Christmas posts on the website to help you choose what to buy
Which wine should I serve with the turkey
First of all the centrepiece of the traditional Christmas dinner. If you’re serving turkey what is the best wine to choose? Remember it’s more about the stuffing, sauces and sides than the bird itself - you want a wine as bright and fruity as the cranberry sauce you dollop on the plate! I’d go for a fruity red like a Central Otago pinot noir, a velvety merlot or a shiraz. You can find other suggestions here
What wine goes with Christmas ham?
There’s usually a glaze on Christmas ham which calls for a wine with a touch of sweetness - much the same type as you’d serve with turkey, actually which makes life easy if you’re serving them both at the same time. I also have a soft spot for Beaujolais, especially once the ham is cold or a rich jammy grenache
I’m having goose - what wine should I pair with that?
Ah, slightly different register here. Goose is a darker, more savoury meat then turkey but also quite fatty so you need a wine with the acidity to cut through. Personally I’d go for an Italian red like a barolo or chianti but a spätlese riesling from Germany or grand cru riesling from Alsace would also be delicious if the family don't insist on a red.
How do I kick the day off? Which wine should I serve before the Christmas meal?
Well champagne’s the obvious festive choice isn’t it or, a sparkling wine that's more local to you (an English sparkling wine in my case). Both are perfect if you’re having a few nibbles before the meal rather than a starter which is what we tend to do. You could also serve a good Chablis or Loire sauvignon blanc like Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé both of which go well with seafood like oysters or smoked salmon.
Should I serve wine with the Christmas pudding?
Go for it! I prefer a richer dessert wine like muscat or moscatel rather than a light, lemony one like Sauternes. Moscatel de Valencia or passito di Pantelleria would both be delicious with all that dried fruit.
If you’re serving a French style buche de Noël or other chocolate yule log, you could could go for a sweet RED like a Maury or a recioto della Valpolicella
And does it have to be sherry with mince pies?
Of course it doesn’t *have* to but Santa might be disappointed if you forgot his glass. Cream sherry, of course! A sweet madeira is also great with mince pies as is mulled wine . . .
What about a pairing for Christmas cake?
Whisky! Honestly! Trust me. It’s so delicious particularly if it’s been aged in a sherry cask. Or a rich Irish whiskey like Midleton Rare. Or try an Aussie Rutherglen muscat.
What about the Christmas cheeseboard?
Cheese is a whole other subject! Port of course is traditional at Christmas, particularly with Stilton but there are other good options such as sherry (yes, again) and madeira. Or whatever red wine you’ve been enjoying with the main course ...
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